Hiking on Isle au Haut
Swan Island July 30th
With no real plan for the day, it was a slow start, By the time we got organized, we decided to do a laundry and go for a walk. So it was late morning when we were heading back to the boat.
Next to us was a Bristol 41.1, the same as ours, except a center cockpit model. So... we had to stop for a chat. Two hours later, after we had toured theirs, and they ours, we dropped the mooring and headed out into the ever light winds of Casco Bay.
Our first stop was Great Chebeague Island, one of the many islands in Casco Bay. With a population of 400 in the winter and 4000 in summer, it is a step back in time, where children and dogs run free, and cars (who may or may not have a licence plate) slowly pass you with a wave of the hand. Speed limit, 25 MPH.
We toured the Great Chebeague Inn and thought about staying for dinner, but decided to move on. So, out past Robert Perry's former summer home, Eagle Island, and we headed up Quahog Bay to Swan Island where we dropped the anchor in glassy still waters for the night. Only the hissing of BBQ lamb chops and corn broke the stillness, soon quenched with a red zinfandel.
Sebasco Harbor Resort July 31st
In the morning we were off at our usual 1000 hrs. The objective for the day was twofold; first a hike on Merritt Island, and a stop for the night at Sebasco Resort. Merritt Island, about 6 miles up the New Meadows River is owned by Bowdin College. We had not heard about it, but just happened to read about it in an article on cruising Maine in a magazine we picked up just the day before.
Merritt is one of over 200 islands that are publicly owned on the Maine coast. It has a loop trail around its half mile length, but no landing. Limited camping is permitted, but there were none there on our visit. So we chugged in the dinghy into a muddy indent where we squished ashore for a nice walk.
By the time we returned, the dinghy was well stranded by the falling tide, leaving us with a mucky struggle before we were floating again. But a nice walk.
Back aboard, we drifted down the river to Sebasco Harbor where we picked up a mooring at the Sebasco Harbor Resort for the night. Ashore we walked through the family-centered resort with its golf, tennis, salt water pool (heated) and many activities aimed at children. In the harbor, there were six visitors like us, and three of them had three generations of family aboard each. We sat on the restaurant patio and watched the sun set across the tiny harbor.
The Oven Mouth Aug 1st
After topping off our water tanks at the resort's dock, we motored out into the western reaches of Casco Bay and down the coast and around Cape Small. Along the coast we passed Seguin Island and into the mouth of the Sheepscoot River. The day was cloudy and flat calm, so we just chugged along and by noon were off Five Islands Harbor. Inside the tiny harbor the Five Island Yacht Club maintains three guest moorings, one of which we picked up. In spite of having cruised for 5 days since we left Day's Ferry, we were still only 10 miles from Bruce & Nancy's so we called them and arranged to meet for one last lunch at the restaurant on the wharf. We had a lazy lunch in the warm clearing skies. It was mid-afternoon by the time we cast off and headed out and up the river again.
Our destination was only 5 miles away, and in the outgoing current, we were moving slowly, but that was no problem. Our destination for the night, the Oven Mouth, requires passing through a very narrow gap that can have currents running up to six knots, so we were trying to time our approach for slack current. As we edged our way towards the cut, we were surprised to learn that we were successful! We ghosted through and into the anchorage, glassy calm water in a pool about 300 yds across. We watched one person digging clams on the flats and a couple swimming (breifly) in the cold water. Then as evening came, we had our first rain in two weeks. Dinner below for the first time on the cruise was crab stuffed sole with fresh vegetables... and a cold wine!
Ebencook Harbor Aug 2nd
By morning the sun had returned, drying out the cockpit to allow us to enjoy our fruit, granola and yogurt in the warming day. Looking at the narrow entrance, with the strong incoming current, it was clear we were there for a few hours. So, after coffee and finishing the papers from yesterday, we set off to explore the neighborhood.
With another small park abutting our anchorage, we took the dinghy and made a better landing than our Merritt Island landing. Another beautiful park with trails following the anchorge, and we were back at the dinghy an hour later, just in time for slack water and our exit.
Following the river upstream for another five miles, we rounded Davis Island Point into the Wiscassett anchorage, where we recognised Demi Tasse, a motor-sailer belonging to Corning and Tita Tounsend, who we met in Lake Worth a number of years ago. With no signs of life and no response to our hails, we carried on to pick up a mooring from the Wiscassett Yacht Club, and headed ashore for lunch and a tour.
Wiscassett is a beautiful village whose heyday harkens back to the days of sail and ship building. But it is enjoying a renaissance as a very popular tourism center. It is tiny, but busy, creating excellent traffic jams on Hwy 1 which runs through its center. Among its best restaurants, we headed for le Garage where we had an excellent lunch of crab infused mac & cheese and ceaser salad.
Then to the wine shop where we found not just a few nice wines to replish the larder, but supper as well.
So back aboard, we shot down the river at twice the speed we came up, aided by ite strong currents. Winding our way into Ebencook Harbor, we drifted quietly into Love Cove, a favorite stop.
Dinner in the still warm evening was ham, mushroom and cheesequiche and salads followed by raspberry/peach pie with whipped cream, all fresh from Wiscassett.
Port Clyde Aug 3-4
Project number 2 for the day wa timing our arrival at the Southport bridge, spanning the narrow Townsend Gut. It opens only every half hour, is narrow, with strong currents and strewn with lobster pots trying to snag your rudder, or worse, your propeller.
But Project number 1 was breakfast, another Wiscesett purchase, a nice buttermilk pancake mix. Short on breakfast essentials, this blended well with our last egg and the last of the milk and ham to produce another beautiful breakfast in the still calm of the morning.
At 1000 hrs we dropped the very welcoming guest mooring (one of three) and motored up into Townsend Gut. And we timed it well, arriving at the bridge with only 3 minutes of maneuvering to keep our position and avoid drifting over a lobster pot.
Through the bridge, we motored out the Gut and raised the sails for a beautiful day of sailing in 10-15 knot southerlies across Muscongous Bay and into Port Clyde, where we picked up a mooring for two nights. Ashore, we checked in at the Port Clyde General Store, a true general store with everything from engine oil next to the wine and meat next to the fishing gear.
Port Clyde is far from our favorite stop. Open to the south, in any significant wind, a swell runs through, and with a strong tidal current it can mean an uncomfortable night with the boat fighting the wind and tide. But we were there for a reason... Jeannie's bucket list.
It contained a visit to Monhegan Island, and of all the options to visit, taking a ferry for a day trip from Port Clyde was the best. So we lined up for the 1030 hrs ferry, tickets in hand (a full load) and joined 150 or so other tourists headed out. We had talked about going out on Estelle, but everything we read discouraged us... a rolly harbor, rocky bottem and no moorings. And it turns out we made the right choice. We saw a couple of cruisers hanging on as they pitched and rolled on one of the few moorings. We watched one boat try 4 times to grab a mooring in the huge swells (in light winds) only to turn and leave, a sail of 25 miles for nothing.
View of Monhegan from the top of the lighthouse
Monhegan has a history as an artist's colony, with some bery well respected works coming from the islad. Today, it is even more so an artist's colony,,, there are more of them than seagills, scattered all over the island. It must be the most painted corner of the earth! As we landed, it seemed as if the visitors were just overwhelming the small island. But after a 10 inute walk to the lighthouse/museum, the throngs disappeared. We spent a very enjoyable hour learning about the history of the island, not just from the museum displays, but also from the volunteer attendant, a lifelong summer resident. The island has a winter population of 50 and a summer population of about 400.
By the time w3 left the museum, we were anxious to find a lunch stop as it was mid-afternoon. And we were happy to settle in at the Fish House, a no-nonsense take out on the beach. With one order of fish tacos and one crab roll we were well satisfied, and at a pleasently surprising price!
So off for a short hike, as our return trip at 1630 hrs was fast approaching. And again, after 10 minutes, we were alone, crowds fell away and we hiked a few of the many trails covering the island. Matinicus is a curious mixture of very touristy, very pretty and lots of beautiful hikes.
Back aboard the Elizabeth Anne, we sat, relaxed after a wonderful day... highly enjoyable and highly recommended!
Cradle Cove/Dark Hbr Boatyard Aug 5th
We have been listening to the weather forecast, and planning our next few days accordingly. The forecast for today was southerlies 5-10 growing to 15-20 with gusts to 25 by evening. Then tomorrow strong southerlies, 20-25 and severe thunderstorms in the evening. So...time to play hide the boat!
But having anchored, we went ashore and streched our legs. Seven Hundred Acre Island, home to the boatyard is a quiet island in the middle of Penobscott Bay, with no permenant residents and only a few summer ones. We walked the only road, a rough gravel affair and in one hour met only two vehicles, one off road and one small motor bike, both with drivers well short of the legal age. But that's summer life on these islands, a great way to grow up!